Can Jefferson continue its recent improvement?
After winning only a total of three games in its three previous seasons, Jefferson managed to break even in 2013 with a 5-5 record that was completed with a loss to county rival Washington.
That was an improvement of four wins over 2012 for then first-year coach Craig Hunter.
Now the Cougars face a schedule that could be tamed well enough to yield not only a winning season but also a possible playoff finish to an even more improved 2014 campaign.
Hunter has three-year starter Adam King at quarterback and three-year starter Will Ransom at a linebacker post.
One of King’s likely receivers is Delonte Berry, also a possible defensive starter when the Cougars open tonight (August 29) on the road at second-year program Spring Mills.
Lawrence Morris, a senior like King, is another wide receiver with credentials from last year. Like Berry, Morris could also be a two-way player for Hunter and his newly installed defensive coach, former Washington head coach Mark Hash.Another probable starter is Phillip Keller, a 6-foot-1, 237-pound linebacker and defensive end.
Several other Cougars — including Alex Bellamy, a 5-foot-10, 183-pound senior; Isaac Myers (a 6-foot, 190-pound junior) and Tyler Stehr, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound junior — could balance the scales against the players lost to spring’s graduation.
After going on the road to Frostburg to see Mountain Ridge in the season’s second week, the Cougars come home for games against Hampshire and Musselman.
The other three road games are at Sherando, Millbrook (Va.) and Hedgesville.
The other three home games are with Keyser, Martinsburg and Washington.
There will be adequate quickness and speed concerning Jefferson’s skill players. And King has been throwing passes and guiding the Cougar offense as a starter since he was a sophomore . . . and he played extensively as a freshman.
How many wins will it take to get the Cougars into the playoffs? It will take six to have a winning season, something Jefferson hasn’t seen in some time.
As always, there is little depth at some critical spots. And injuries have a way of quickly changing the tone and forward motion of any high school season.
But with a healthy lineup, the Cougars have enough experience and enough talent to improve on last year.